Volvo Concierge App Is Vehicle Maintenance, at Your Service

With digital keys and telematics, the connected car is starting to make sense.

byLiane Yvkoff|
Volvo News photo

For the most part, the connected car has been about making infotainment and navigation easier, and emergency response faster. Beyond electric vehicle charging or remote start features, there isn’t a whole lot more you can do with the those vehicle apps you download to your phone. But Volvo is taking that digital key you use to unlock your doors with your phone and making it something you can give to others so they can do your busy work for you.

Volvo Concierge Services is an app that gives you access to on-demand valet services for your car. With the push of a button, a select group of Volvo owners can use this app to have a Filld refueling truck show up at their location to fill their car, or use their car as a mobile drop-off depot for delivered items. They can also outsource detailing their vehicle or taking it in for maintenance at the dealership. Perhaps the best feature is getting the car ferried to and from locations, like the airport, so you don’t have to pay for parking.

The program is being pilot-tested in the San Francisco Bay Area, and up to 300 owners of XC90 and X90 vehicles will be invited to participate in this program. On-demand services will be provided by four auto dealerships and other companies, as the list of honey-dos the app provides grows. The service goes a bit further than what Amazon is enabling with Alexa, and is more flexible because you can issue commands without being anywhere near your Echo at home.

Trusting people with their car is a leap of faith that Volvo made easier with digital keys with one-time access, generated on the fly. This means that you can let Postmates drop off a package in your vehicle, and not worry that someone else will use your PIN to take your car for a joy ride later down the line.

This type of push-button service sounds convenient, but there's a catch. Owners are still on the hook for paying for the driver’s time and mileage for the valet services, and it will only work as long as your vehicle is accessible and has a signal—which means you may have a hard time using it in parking garages or anywhere wireless coverage is spotty.

But there is no fee to use the app, at least for now. Volvo is using this pilot program to discover whether customers will embrace this technology, to learn different use cases, and to understand its customers’ habits. It also puts in perspective the capabilities of the connected car services that go beyond the dashboard. Hyundai recently announced Blue Link integration with Amazon Alexa; however, owners must be within audible range of their Echo to issue voice commands. They’re also limited to remote start and charging tasks, while the Volvo Concierge Services app opens the virtual door to the on-demand mobile world—as long as you’re willing to hand over your car's digital key to strangers.